Dr. Muhammad Yunus is known for starting a program to support poor women in Bangladesh to earn living through a system called Microfinance (Grameen Bank). Today, the method of Microfinance is spread throughout the world.
Dr. Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, and I have touched on it describing its effect/meaning to the world in my Opening Keynote at the Meeting of Ministers of Environment, 2008 G8+5 Summit. Also, there are several postings in my website introducing him to you (Ref.1,2).
As you may know, Dr. Yunus visited Japan just recently. Media reported that President Yanai of UniQlo will collaborate with him. Many of you may also have seen the media coverage of other variety of activities Dr. Yunus was involved during his stay in Japan. Kyusyu University and Rikkyo University (the links are in Japanese) (Ref.1) also have been working with Dr. Yunus.
I had an opportunity to join dinner with Dr. Yunus and talk about many things. His words are always impressively passionate and clear. I understand that now he is helping the issue of poverty in the United States; his activities are quickly expanding to such fields as poverty, education, health care, job creation. We enjoyed listening to many of his thoughts including his very clear and persuasive view on ‘why women?’.
Dr. Yunus and I also talked about the project of the students of Waseda University which we helped get started. Two of the students took leave of absence from the University to begin a new Japanese project with the local Grameen bank. They also launched Grameen Change Maker Project (Ref.1) (the links are in Japanese) in Japan to encourage participation of more Japanese university students and youths. What they are doing is absolutely wonderful and full of young energy. I am very pleased to see this happening.
Just as Dr. Yunus and I were talking about them, an e-mail from these students, Mr. Miyoshi and Mr. Saisyo, came in from Dhaka. I quickly sent reply to them and said to Dr. Yunus that ‘I have copied my reply to you, too’. Such things can happen because we live in a very inter-connected world.
World is getting smaller and smaller. I recommend young people to go outside to see the world. ‘Let Us Take Leave of Absence from School’(Ref.1) is the key. This will provide you with a very good opportunity to broaden your view, look at your ‘self’, see Japan from outside and find your ‘self’. I ask universities (and government) for their support and encouragement, too. I say so because this is also the direction in the major universities of the world, which recognize such programs very important for nurturing the leaders of the global age.